ghana-notes-for-visitors by jizhen1947


									Notes for Visitors
January 2008

British Council in Ghana -
Over 70 years of working with people worldwide!

For over 70 years British Council has sought to          Accra Office
develop and improve relations between the United
Kingdom and Ghana through programmes and                 Address:        British Council
projects that extend across a broad range of cultural,                   Liberia Road
technical, educational, developmental, professional                      P O Box GP 771
and pe rsonal development activities.                                    Accra

                                                         telephone:      +233 (0) 21 610090

                                                         fax:            +233 (0) 21 683062

                                                                         (general enquiries)


                                                         Director:       Moses Anibaba

                                                         Kumasi Office

                                                         Address:        British Council
                                                                         Bank Road Adum
                                                                         P O Box KS 1996

                                                         telephone:      +233 (0) 51 23462, 26724
                                                         fax:            +233 (0) 51 26725

                                                                         (general enquiries)


                                                         Manager Kumasi:         Albert Opoku
Creating opportunities, changing lives
The British Council is the UK’s organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are an
independent and non-political organisation, with a global mission to connect people world-wide with learning
opportunities and creative ideas from the UK.

We build mutually beneficial relationships between people in the UK and Ghana – we believe in the potential
of individuals and in the benefits of internationalism. Through our work, we try to create experiences for our
customers, partners and clients that are welcoming, trustworthy, innovative and contemporary. Ghana is part of our
global network which consists of 110 countries worldwide

The British Council has operated in Ghana since 1943. Our headquarters is in Accra and we also have an office
and resource centre in Kumasi. We have 1 UK-based staff and about 27 nationally-recruited staff.

Ghana has a population of around 19 million, 40% of who are aged under 15. It has made significant progress in
growth, in economic management and in increasing poverty related expenditure. Priorities are economic growth,
improving public finances, public service reform and more accountable and efficient basic services.

The strategic issues that most impact the British Council work in Ghana are; the huge demand for learning
opportunities across our target groups at both an individual and institutional level and the limited opportunity for
those demands to be met, the desire within Ghana for Ghana, and Africa, to be better understood and better
represented within the global community, a growing interest in Africa from the UK.

With this in mind, the strategic focus of our work in Ghana is on; creating and enhancing learning opportunities for
our target groups and building access and understanding between Africa and the global community. In creating
access and opportunity, the added value that British Council brings, is a strength in building networks on interest
and supporting communities of practice, specific in English as a tool for international access, educational
opportunity and conflict resolution, an ability to create relevant, life-long learning experiences through an integrated
knowledge and learning approach.

Our present areas of work are;

   Professional Development
   These are the products that we offer under this area

       Management training
       Education UK - Information and support about study in the UK, Scholarships and Institutional partnerships
        for development
       InterAction- Pan-African leadership programme
       British Professional Exams and IELTS English language testing
       Management Forum - networking and learning opportunities
       Fast Track - self study and tutored training modules
       The Challenge – educational reality TV show
       FCO Chevening Scholarship
       DFID Educational partnership in Higher Education
       AKTP – Africa Knowledge and Transfer Partnerships

    Youth Exchanges & Intercultural Dialogue
    These are the products that we offer under this area;

       Connecting Classrooms
       Dreams & Teams
       DFID Global School Partnerships
       Global Exchange
       Debate to Action
       Intercultural Dialogue Africa

    Arts and Science
    These are the products that we offer under this area;

       Creative Entrepreneurs
       Climate Change
Key facts and figures
    British Council has been changing and impacting lives in Ghana for over 65 years!
       British Council Ghana is part of a global network of offices in 109 countries around the world but belongs to
        a regional group of 11 countries in Africa i.e. Cameroon, Ethiopia, Eritrea Kenya Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra
        Leone, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

       Last year over 137,000 people viewed pages on our website -

       Our projects and programmes are currently active in almost 8 out of the 10 regions in Ghana.
       We have a network of local and international contacts in civil society, education, the arts, corporate Ghana
        and international business gurus and emerging leaders in varying fields.
       Last year through our programmes and events we engaged with over 8,868,000 people in Ghana and a
        total of over 58,000,000 people in East and West Africa.

About Ghana
Situated on the West African coast, Ghana lies south of Burkina Faso, with Togo to the east and the Côte d'Ivoire to the
west. Ghana has a land area of approx. 238,540 sq km (93,030 sq mi), about the size of Great Britain. To its south is the
Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Guinea. Excellent maps and information can be found at

Ghana is on GMT with no seasonal changes.

Climate and Clothing needs
It’s hot nearly all year round with average temperatures between 25°C (75°F) and 29°C (84°F) and high humidity.
It’s important to bring hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and light wash-and-wear clothing, preferably cotton. Keep in mind
that very short skirts, dresses and skirts are generally not worn by Ghanaian women and could affect the welcome you
receive. Shorts are okay for beach or sports wear. A suit for men will see you through official engagements and a tie,
although not essential, will create a more positive reaction.

Most offices are open from 0830 - 1230 and from 1330 - 1700. In practice, however, it is easiest to contact officials after
0900. Appointments are easy to set up. However, you may arrive at a pre-arranged appointment to find that the official
concerned has been called away on urgent business, or has travelled outside the city.

Ghana's official language is English and can be used widely. A number of local languages and French are used
extensively. Akan, Ga, Ewe and Hausa are also widely spoken.
You will never feel a stranger in Ghana. Visitors are always greeted heartily with a warm ‘akwaaba’ which literally means
welcome. You may also be referred to as ‘sister’/’auntie’ or ‘brother’/’uncle’.

Social customs and cultural etiquette
Ghanaians are normally very friendly and polite. They are humorous and enjoy social contact with foreigners. Most
people you meet will offer a hand in an informal handshake. Formal occasions of any sort are characterised by speeches
which are seldom short.

It is still customary when being introduced to a group, to start on the right and shake hands in an anti-clockwise direction.
Sometimes, though less so now, it is regarded as bad form to pass anything with the left hand.
Smoking is uncommon, and restraint by smokers will be thought polite and respectful.

In Ghana there are some English phrases not to use: 'Don't be silly’, ‘don't be a fool’ or ‘stupid’ are taken as insults. Also
animal names, references to insanity, impotency, references to parts of the body e.g. ''big nose'' should all be avoided.
On the subject of ethnic or tribal roots, it is totally a taboo to refer to someone as a slave and one should not refer to
people as witches or wizards.

Tipping (dash) is generally accepted and is permitted in hotels, restaurants shops alike. It is rarely added to the bill and
normally goes to the person who carried out the service i.e. porter, driver, waiter, guide etc. A sum of GH¢1 is
appropriate for small services.

Beachwear should be confined to the beach, and wearing immodest clothing in public is likely to cause offence or
attract unwanted attention. The wearing of military apparel such as camouflage clothing by civilians is prohibited.

The Ghanaian Legal system is very much based on the British system. You must respect the laws of the land;
otherwise you can expect to be dealt with in the same way as a Ghanaian citizen would.                            3
Homosexuality in Ghana is illegal. Although there is a small gay community, there is no "scene" and a large portion
of Ghanaian society does not accept that such activity exists.

Photography near sensitive sites such as military installations or the airport is strictly prohibited. Such sites may
not be clearly marked and the application of restrictions is open to interpretation. Photographers should ask
permission if they want to take a photograph of a building where there are guards on duty outside. Where there
are not, unless there are notices forbidding photography, there should not be a problem, but caution should be
exercised. Permission should also be sought from people if you wish to take their photograph (a small tip or "dash"
may be required). But beware of self-appointed officials trying to charge fees for tourists to take pictures of well-
known sites of interest.

Religion and places of worship
Ghana is a conservative and deeply religious country. Although modern and progressive attitudes also prevail,
respect must be shown for traditional values and morals About a third of Ghanaians are Christian, a third Moslem and
one third follow traditional beliefs. The established Christian denominations are the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist
and Presbyterian Churches, whilst many people belong to Pentecostal and younger Charismatic churches.

Popular churches and mosques                                         Denomination
International Central Gospel Church -                                charismatic
Action Chapel                                                        charismatic
Christ the King                                                      Catholic

Islam is widespread in the northern regions and Accra. There are mosques in most cities. Every Friday, Moslems attend
a congregation at the mosque for early afternoon prayers.

Malaria prophylactics are essential. Visitors should realise that malaria is an extremely serious and debilitating illness.
Prevention is much better than cure. If you haven’t brought any you can buy tablets at pharmacies.

Yellow fever vaccination and certificate are required in Ghana. Bilharzia is endemic so avoid swimming in fresh water.

Contracting AIDS in Ghana, as in any another country, depends on what you do. Prophylactics are readily available in
most pharmacies and, people are advised to use protection if they have casual sexual encounters.

Main hospitals are in Accra and regional capitals; standards are relatively high by West African standards. For a
specialist medical problem you may prefer a private clinic. The British Council in Accra and Kumasi can advise on
hospitals and clinics.

Bottled mineral water is recommended for drinking and for brushing teeth etc (especially in the rural areas). Hygiene
standards in restaurants and hotels are normally adequate, but less so roadside stalls. Make sure that you drink enough
to avoid dehydration. You may also need to increase your salt intake. You might need some Imodium or similar drugs
from time to time.

There are two major public hospitals in Ghana. Korle-Bu in Accra and Komfo Anokye in Kumasi. They are both teaching
hospitals and are staffed with experienced medical experts. They are open to the public 24 hours from Monday to Friday.
There are also duty doctors, nurses and others on call at weekends. They charge moderate fees for registration and
minor treatment. Waiting times at out patient departments can be very long.
Korle- Bu:                  (021) 665401                         Komfo Anokye:               (051) 22301

The SSNIT Trust Hospital – This is recommended for emergencies for visitors
This hospital is a modern health care centre in Accra. It has facilities of a modern hospital to undertake major surgery
and vaccinations. It maintains high standards and is open to the public 24 hours everyday of the week. The SSNIT
Trust hospital is located on Cantonments Road, Osu RE and opposite (Goil Filling Station) Osu.
tel: (021) 776787/ 777137

37 Military Hospital – ok for emergencies but can be extremely crowded with long waiting times
Built initially to cater for military personnel, this hospital has been expanded to cater for civilians as well. It is a five-minute
drive from the airport and is open 24 hours all week. Like the SSNIT trust hospital, it is equipped with facilities to
undertake major surgery. Very serious cases are referred to Korle-Bu. tel: (021) 776111/ 665401

Details for some good clinics are shown below:                                     4
Dr Handa                                      Dr Jane Ansafo-Mensah                        Dr Ebo Derban
Nyaho Clinic, Aviation Road                   Phillips Clinic                              Total Clinic
Airport Residential Area                      Adiembra Road, East Cantonments              Total House, Liberia Road
tel: (021) 775341/ 775291                     tel: (021) 768681/ 774546                    tel: (021) 6649214/ 024431775

Postal services, telephones, mobile and internet
The telephone service throughout Ghana has improved. It is possible to phone different countries of the world from most
hotels, communication centres and any available phone booth. All one needs is a phone card or an operator, depending
on where the call is being made. Phone cards can be bought from any major post office or communication centre and at
some petrol stations.

The popular mobile phone operators are MTN (GSM) [], Tigo (GSM) [], One Touch
(GSM) [] and Kasapa (CDMA) [].
Visitors from the UK can use their mobile phones with the GSM service providers or buy a SIM card locally.

If your hotel does not have internet access you may be able to arrange to use the British Council facilities. In Accra there
are a number of cybercafés providing good internet access. One of the most popular ones is a 24x7 internet café called
Busy Internet on the Ring Road. tel: (021) 258800

Postal services can be slow. The British Council uses DHL for official mail to and from UK. The Central post office and
Expedited Mail Service (EMS) is used for the internal mail.


British passport holders require a visa to enter Ghana. Overstaying without the proper authority is a serious matter
and can lead to detention or refused permission to leave the country until a fine is paid.

British Passport holders travelling from the UK
All British passport holders need a visa to enter Ghana. A visa prior to arrival is not usually difficult to obtain, but allow 7-
14 days for it to be issued though the Ghana High Commission; considerably longer, if processing your visa through a
visa shop outside London. You should state ‘work’ or ‘official business’ as your reason for visit on visa application forms.
For those arriving on British Council business, an invitation letter can be issued by the British Council Ghana, on request.
The cost of the visa is approx £20 prior to arrival. Visit for more information.

            Ghana High Commission                                   Ghana High Commission
            104 Highgate Hill                                       13 Belgrave Square
            London N6 5HE                                           London SW1X 8PN

            tel : 020 8342 7500 / 020 8342 7501                     tel : 020 7235 4142
            fax: 020 8342 8570                                      fax: 020 7245 9552
                                                                    telex: 28827 / 21370

If there is not enough time to process your visa prior to arrival a visa on arrival can be sought however this requires
British Council assistance as you must hold a letter of invitation on arrival from us and we need to process the
requirement this end before you get here. You will need to have $100 USD or equivalent to pay for the visa on arrival.

Before leaving the UK double-check the following:

   you have a valid passport and visa.
   that you have an up-to-date yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Passport validity
Passports should be valid for at least six months when submitted to the Ghanaian authorities for a visa.

Yellow fever vaccinations are required for all foreign nationals visiting Ghana You may be asked to produce a
yellow fever vaccination certificate on arrival in the country. Updating your tetanus vaccine and any others your
doctor might recommend (such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis or rabies) is also a good idea. Taking
malaria prophylactics before you arrive is highly recommended.

You should also be aware of bilharzia and the timbu fly. Bilharzia is common in fresh water all over Africa so because of
it you should use extreme caution when swimming in lakes or rivers. Its actually best to avoid swimming in these places.
The timbu fly can lay its eggs in clothing hung out to dry or generally they directly transfer the eggs to your skin if you                                    5
happen to be in their vicinity. A white centred ‘pimple’ results usually overnight when you might feel something crawling
on your skin. As the lump gets larger you can see the black breathing tube as a small dot on the lump. Consult a Doctor
or any local experienced with this infliction as they are best removed skilfully using petroleum jelly when they are ready.
Lancing the larvae can be very painful and not very successful, with an infection the result.

Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require
documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some
cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.

In large urban areas such as Accra and Kumasi, ATMs are commonplace and will accept most UK cash cards – but
not Switch. Credit cards are accepted at many hotels, guesthouses and some shops, but credit card fraud is
commonplace and you should exercise caution when using them. You should contact your bank if you intend to
use you credit cards in Ghana as many banks do not honour any transactions attempted here either in hotels or at
ATMs due to the possibility of fraud. MasterCard is not widely accepted for use in Ghana particularly at ATMs.
Travellers' Cheques can be exchanged in large hotels, banks and Forex bureau. However, Travellers Cheques
from some UK banks are not accepted: check with your bank prior to travel.

The Government of Ghana has introduced new banknotes (Ghana cedi) and coins (Ghana pesewa).
10,000 cedis = 1 Ghana cedi = 100 Ghana pesewas. The old currency is no longer legal tender as of 31 December
2007. The Government of Ghana has established a website to inform the public about the currency redenomination

Electrical gadgets and compliance
If you bring along any electrical appliances, they should operate on 240 volts. Electric outlets accept either three-
pronged, as well as two pronged, British or European type plugs or converters. Having a multi-adapter is also a good
idea. Beware that surges and power outages are frequent.

Travel Insurance
This is an option you may prefer to consider to cover, health and loss of personal items.

Arriving in Ghana
All international flights arrive at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) situated 5km from the centre of Accra; a 20-minute
drive. Ghana is on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The airport is re-built so it’s reasonably comfortable and modern with
some minor refurbishing of facilities still going on inside. Outside, the wider car-park could do with resurfacing and isn’t
very trolley friendly.

On leaving the aircraft you descend the stairs and ride a bus or you might be told to walk to the arrivals entrance.
procedures. Early off the bus means less queuing at Immigration. Most of the officials you will meet wear uniforms and a
small badge for identification. In the Arrivals hall, foreign arrivals are to the left and ECOWAS to the right.

If you are arriving on a busy flight from Europe you may be obliged to queue for some time. Although the airport is air-
conditioned, it is still advisable to be lightly dressed. The arrivals hall is being re-built and is slow and crowded at peak
periods (viz. every UK/European flight).

Immigration control
Show your passport and arrival card issued on the plane or collected in the Arrivals hall at one of the desks when you
reach the front of the queue.

Health Certificates
Show your yellow fever certificate if it is requested at the Health Desk both on arrival and departure.

Baggage collection and Customs
In the Baggage Hall collect your heavy baggage. This can take quite a while. If you have some luggage that doesn’t turn
up you have to go to the service desk opposite the turntables and fill in a form so you can collect the luggage hopefully
after the next flight arrives, usually the following day.

A customs officer may ask to see inside your luggage on the way out. He/she might put a chalk mark on your luggage for
identification by other officials who check the luggage on the way out of the airport. If you have more than $3000 USD on
you, it should be declared.

Porters official and otherwise                                   6
Please beware that the porters will insist on pushing your trolley or carrying your bags and then they will demand money,
unless you have heavy luggage, it is often less hassle to carry your own. Outside the airport and barricades these are
likely to be informal porters who will expect to be paid something in local currency. They can be quite insistent. Please
keep your luggage close to you at all times.

Exiting the airport to meet your driver or contact
Officers may check that your luggage has been chalk marked, and ask for your baggage tag attached to your ticket
before you walk through the door to go outside. This is only to ensure that no one steals any bags so please do not be

Are you being met by someone?
If you are a British Council visitor arriving in Ghana, unless you have made your own arrangements and advised us, a
British Council member of staff or appointed agent will meet you either in the baggage hall or at the bottom of the ramp
after customs or outside the airport door. Please look out for the British Council Logo if we are meeting you.
Many of the larger hotels (Novotel, La Palm, Golden Tulip etc.) will greet arriving passengers at the bottom of the long
ramp after customs inside the airport and assist you to their transport. You may ask for identification before boarding any

There is often a large crowd of people outside. There is a large barricaded area and until you identify the person you are
meeting it’s more comfortable and less hassle to stay within this area where the Security Guards can see you. No one is
allowed to enter this area unauthorised. It’s best to walk around the space inside the barriers until you find the person
meeting you. You can stay in there as long as you want.

Visitors are advised to use only porters with identification tags, as many offers to help with your luggage will be made by
young men hanging around the exit. There is the possibility that your luggage will get stolen in the process. If a
representative of a Ghanaian institution is meeting you, look for your host and firmly decline all offers of help.

Be careful! There are pick-pockets around and you are better off within the barriers until you find your contact. Please
take care of your passport, money, hand-bags, brief cases, cameras, mobile phones and luggage.

If you need a taxi, choose one or two porters to carry your luggage to the car park road side and be prepared to haggle
with one or two drivers. Taxis (painted in 2 colours with orange or yellow wings) are numerous but they have no meter
and there is effectively no fixed fare. Apart from the taxis, there are service cars (LET Drive) which have been registered
by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and they are fitted with metres. These are a better option. When travelling between
towns, be on the look out. There have been recent incidents of bag snatching and robbery on some routes. It’s best to
always travel with the windows up and doors locked and take care if you are stopped somewhere. Robbery is particularly
more prevalent after dark.

A new and well-maintained car will cost more. You should be prepared to bargain taxi fares, although it is unlikely that
taxi-drivers will charge extortionate prices. You will pay more than locals.


There is a low threat from terrorism. But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks
which could be in public areas, including those frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Most visits to Ghana are trouble-free, provided sensible precautions are taken. But there are incidents of crime,
particularly in and around Accra and the other main urban areas. You should avoid carrying large sums of money
or valuables and be very wary when drawing cash from any of the ATMs in central Accra. There have been
reported incidents of fraud involving the misuse of credit cards. You should exercise vigilance, particularly after
dark. If possible, you should avoid travelling alone in taxis after dark because of attempted robberies.

Thefts of both luggage and travel documents occur at Kotoka International Airport, Accra and in the hotels across
Ghana. You should ensure your documents are kept secure at all times (including when leaving the airport) and
that your baggage is never left unattended.

You should also be wary of all offers of unsolicited assistance at the airport unless from uniformed porters or
officials. All permanent staff at the airport wear a current ID card bearing their name and photograph. ID cards
without a photograph are not valid.

Foreign visitors and residents in Ghana are increasingly becoming targets by scam artists. The scams come in
many forms, and can pose great financial loss to victims. Scam artists are also targeting individuals in other                                 7
countries. Relatives or friends in the other countries should first check with the person who has travelled to Ghana
before becoming involved in the transfer of money

More information regarding the following subject areas on Ghana are available at;; and

Political Situation
Local travel by road, sea and air
Weather conditions and flooding
Air Travel
Sea Travel
Population/ethnic groups
Industry and Agriculture
Hotels. Restaurants and shops
Food, entertainment, leisure and sports

Departing from Ghana
Points to note on departure from Accra’s Kotoka International Airport
Please confirm or ask us to confirm your flight 72 hours in advance of your departure. There is an airport departure tax,
currently $20 dollars, which may or may not be paid as part of your ticket price. You should check on arrival whether this
has increased since the time of writing. It is best to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight’s departure time
for check-in and immigration formalities.

Prohibited Exports
West African ceremonial objects and artefacts, whether new or old, can only be exported with a certificate. These are
issued either at the Arts Centre in Accra or the museum in Accra or Kumasi. If you fail to obtain certificates, you can
sometimes get these at the airport on departure, but only after considerable hassle. There are severe penalties for
exporting all types of drugs from Ghana.
ragga, funk and highlife music. It has also night clubs and bars dotted on its shore, most staying till late at night. It is a
favourite spot for most tourists. Watch your valuables and mobile phones on this beach closely.

Useful information and numbers
British High Commission
Accra                                                           High Commissioner:                               Gordon Wetherell
Osu Link (off Gamel Nasser Avenue)                              Deputy High Commissioner:                        Menna Rawlings
P O Box 296                                                     Commercial section (Head):                       Sarah Stevenson
Accra                                                           Consular/Immigration section (Head):             Jo Campbell
Telephone:       +233 021 221665                                Press Political and Public Affairs:              Gary Nicholls
                 +233 021 7010650

Facsimile:        +233 021 7010655
                  +233 021 221715 (UK Visas)

Office Hours:                                                   0745-1445
Immigration Section Public Hours:                               0730-1030
Consular Section Public Hours:                                  0730-1230

Department for International Development
Masida House                                                    DfID (Head):                                     Mike Hammond
Ako Adjei Interchange

Telephone: +233 021 253243
Facsmile: +233 021 253244

Office Hours:                                                   0800 - 1600 (Mon - Thurs)
                                                                0800 - 1330 (Fri)
Foreign missions
                                                                Location                                         Telephone
                                                                                                                 [+233 (0) 21]
Canadian High Commission:                                       No. 46 Independence Av         ....................... 228555/773791
French embassy                                                  12 Liberation Av.              ........................ 774469/774480
German embassy                                                  No. 6 Ridge St. North Ridge   ........................ 221311/221326
Italian embassy                                                 Switchback Crescent            ........................ 775621/760772                                    8
Nigerian High Commission        5 Josef Tito Av.             ........................ 776158/9
South African High Commission   No. 10 Clottey Crescent, North Labone ........ 773880
US embassy                      Ring Road East, Osu          ........................ 775347/9
EU delegation                   82, CantonmentS Road         ........................ 774201/760243
Spanish embassy                 Drake Av. ext., Airport      ........................ 774004/5
Danish embassy                                               ........................ 701133/221835

British Airways                 Woolworth Bld., Airport   ........................ 775400/761762
KLM                             Ring Road Central         ........................ 776509/770382
Emirates Airlines               Meridian House, Ring Road ........................ 230319/226407

Kenya Airways                   Ring Road, KLM compound ........................      241560/241570
Lufthansa                       Meridian House, Ring Road ........................    243893/4
Alitalia                        Ring Road Central         ........................    227873/229813
Ethiopian Airways               Cocoa Hse. Kwame Nkrumah Av. ................         664856/7
Virgin Nigeria                  Woolworth Bldg., Airport   ........................   911721/2
South African Airlines          Millennium Heights Bldg.  ........................    783676/783680    9

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